From the beginning of life on our planet, animals, including the human, has sought a place in the shade in the heat of day. Look at the cows clustered together under the trees. Watch your dog in the summer out on the deck. He will have a sunbath, then move to a shady spot under your umbrella table, which you are sitting at yourself for protection from the heat.
We have all heard of their ecological importance, and take it very much for granted. But do we know that trees are as important to human beings as food and water? To keep city air cool and clean, trees should cover at least 40% of city land. This is the canopy we hear about now and then, and pay so little attention to. One tree can clean the toxic emissions from the dirty air exhausted from an average car driven 4,000 miles.
Trees and land plants produce about 30% of the oxygen on earth. They also add moisture through transpiration. Shade trees save money and energy.Trees lining city streets can save 50% on air conditioning bills during the summer. They reduce heat bills in the winter by providing wind breaks in the winter cold.
Other things that we take for granted, are that forests hold soil in place. Of enormous importance is the fact that trees prevent water running off during the rainy season so that it soaks down to the aquifers that supply drinking water for many people. They help to control floods.
Trees provide shelter, food, recreation and beauty, and homes for insects, birds, animals. How often have I heard people speak fondly of their “resident” Owl. We are destroying our trees faster by the day, with scarcely a thought. The sad part of this is that I truly believe that people love trees just as much as I do, but they don’t know it. They will only realize this when it is too late. Our current form of development, i.e. “high density,” leaves no room for a buttercup let alone a tree. Consider the following, the land is zoned for maximum density. Along with the houses with no back yards, are, widened road, curbs, bicycle lanes, services, and sidewalks. There is no room to preserve even the street trees. The miniature trees planted in the tiny space remaining is no substitute for the Douglas Fir that once stood by the roadside. Nor can it do the job for man that the mature trees did.
Lastly, let us not forget the emotional impact of the tree, it’s healing, calming and relaxing effect on man. We have discovered that the colour green, is in itself healing. Patients in a hospital with a view onto a green space, spend less time in hospital, and require less pain medication. Think only of your own daily drive home from work. Remember how you feel “springs unwind” as you drive down your tree lined street to your house. Think of those summer evenings that you sat in your garden on a summer night and looked at the stars and smelt the green, good fragrance there.
Let us not be like the man or woman who knows too late, how much he loved our wonderful home.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and are presented here by the GHSA to encourage healthy debate. The GHSA Blog exists as a resource to enable members concerned with the environmental and community stewardship of Grandview Heights to voice perspectives. When directors of the Association contribute to the blog, they do so as private citizens, not as officers representing the Association. The GHSA reserves the right to edit, condense or reject any contribution.